Report: Children’s screen time rising during pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC – Just when I thought kids couldn’t spend more time with their faces buried in a screen, they did just that.

Screen media use has risen 17% for teens (ages 13 to 18) and teens (ages 8 to 12) since the start of the pandemic, according to Common Sense Media. And that doesn’t take into account the time you spend physically going to school and doing homework.

The report said the growth rate of 17% in 2020 and 2021 compares to a growth rate of 3% for female adolescents and 11% for female adolescents in the four years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, “Common Sense Census: Media Use by Teenagers and Adolescents, 2021” released on March 23. .

“In the first year of the pandemic, distance learning required many students to spend hours a day taking lessons online. But many also turned to visual media to keep in touch with friends and family, pursue hobbies and creative interests, and to entertain themselves.”

The report looked at the many ways young people use the media: watching television regardless of how it reaches them; watch videos online; use social media to play video or computer games; playing mobile video games; reading regardless of composition – e-books, online reading or reading prints; the use of digital devices to create content; Listen to podcasts. and the use of virtual reality.

Common Sense Media reported several key findings in the report.

– Increased use of media among the two age groups studied in the first two years of the pandemic. Among teens, the time they spent on the media in 2015 was 4 minutes 36 seconds. It increased slightly in 2019 to 4:44, but was enlarged to 5:39 in 2021. For teens, their time in the media grew from 6:40 in 2015 to 7:22 in 2019 and then to 8:39 in year 2021.

“If teens are forced to choose, they say YouTube is the site they don’t want to live without,” the report states. “In fact, watching videos online is the media activity of choice for people between the ages of 8 and 18, attracting both tweens and teens, boys and girls, and across racial/ethnic groups and income levels.”

Among all respondents, 32% said they did not want to live without YouTube. Snapchat came in second with 20%, while TikTok and Instagram tied for third with 13% each.

– The report indicated that “the use of social media is increasing among those aged 8 to 12.” About 38% said they use some form of social media, with – Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Discord and Pinterest in the lead.

“Teens now spend approximately an hour and a half a day using social media,” Common Sense Media said, “but they have conflicting feelings about the medium.” The best choices for teens are the same as for female teens, except that Twitter ranks fifth rather than Pinterest among teens.

– “Between preteens and teens alike, there are substantial differences in the average amount of on-screen media they work with each day, depending on gender, race/ethnicity and household income,” the report said.

Without going into details of the numbers, the report said that among teenage girls, boys use more screen time than girls, Hispanics and blacks do so more than whites, and low-income families more than middle- or high-income families. Among teens, the same rates of use apply, except that middle-income teens outperform Hispanics.

– “Although children in general consumed more media after the pandemic than before,” the report said, “one form of media (activity) did not increase in use: reading.” Among teenage girls, 12% said they had never read; Among teens, 18% in 2021 said they had never read.

There are other forms of media that less than half interact with, which means that either there is a limited time limit for children using media – or there is still room to grow. One of these is the podcast. Only 46% of all teens said they listened to podcasts, but one in five said they do so at least once a week, according to Common Sense Media. Getting lower ratios was virtual reality.

A large number of black and Hispanic families, and children in low-income families, still do not have access to a computer at home, one of the most important building blocks of digital justice. Common Sense estimates that only two-thirds of low-income families have access to a computer. By race, black and Hispanic families have pedigrees in the low 80s when it comes to accessing a computer at home.

“TV watching is something young people devote a significant amount of time to each day regardless of gender, race/ethnicity or family income,” the report states. Majorities in all racial groups: 73% black, 56% Hispanic/Latino, and 52% white.

However, “TV loses some of its appeal as young adults grow from their teenage years into their teen years.” Only 27% of teens said they enjoy watching TV “a lot,” while a third of teens two years ago said the same. This is still well below 62% of those who enjoy watching videos online.

The Common Sense Media numbers are based on an online survey of 1,306 youth ages 8 to 18 in the United States conducted last fall, from September 29 to October 25. The margin of error for the full sample increases or decreases by 3.2 percent points.

Common Sense said it contacted a parent or legal guardian first, and permission was obtained for the teens or teens to participate. She added that no funds were provided to participate or enable participation.

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Editor’s note: The full survey can be found here: